I applaud Kate’s choice of word for the fiveminutefriday prompt. Yesterday was the 6th January, Epiphany, when western Christianity remembers the visit of the wise men to the Christ child. They recognised the star, knew it was a portent, and followed it until they found the promised king. The fact that he was in Bethlehem, not Herod’s palace did not bother them. They chose the significant figure, not the one with the outward show of strength.
Last Friday I visited the Watts Gallery, one of my favourite ‘go to’ places when my spirit needs a lift. G F Watts was a fashionable Victorian painter, the National Portrait Gallery holds many of his pictures of the great and the good.
He also painted the poor.
One of my favourite pictures is ‘Found Drowned’, the portrait of the body of a woman washed up under London Bridge. It is an arresting and disturbing image, painted on a large canvas. Watts recognised the significance of this sad event, and in his own way drew attention to the injustice of his society. An adjacent image portrays a family who are victims of the Irish potato famine, leaning against each other in their distress.
Watts wife, Mary, showed what was important to her in a different way. She gathered volunteers from the village community and showed them how to work in Terracotta to build a chapel of rest for her husband, and the village, on a hill close to the Gallery. Each angel figure on display is unique. The faces of the past look down, their lives long passed but their features enduring. Their work, guided by Mary Watts, is increasingly recognised as a remarkable achievement. They inspire me keep learning my chosen craft of writing and to use it to give dignity to all lives.